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Learning for Sustainability Scotland praised as ‘key champion’ by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

Fri 12th January 2024 - Blog Posts, Communities, Courses & Events Summaries, Further and Higher Education, Initial Teacher Education, LfS Scotland Updates, News, Schools and early learning & childcare settings, Sustainable Development Goals, Young people

Jenny Gilruth MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, has hailed the contribution of Learning for Sustainability Scotland in its pan-sectoral approach to advancing the skills, knowledge, and values needed for a more sustainable and equitable world.  ‘Learning for Sustainability’ as this kind of learning is known in Scotland, is now more prominent than ever across Scottish education.

The minister’s comments came at an evening reception on 11 January, where 80 guests from across Scotland’s educational landscape came together to celebrate 10 years since Learning for Sustainability Scotland (LfSS) was established. LfSS is Scotland’s UN University-recognised Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, and is hosted by the Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh. The Centre is one of a global network of 190 Centres worldwide, with a Secretariat based in Tokyo, Japan. It is one of only five fully national Centres, and is a Centre for all of Scotland, encompassing all forms of education and educational sectors; including early learning and childcare, schools, colleges, universities, communities, and workplaces.

The Centre collaborates with partners across the UK and internationally, as well as with its 1,000 members across Scotland. Together, they have contributed to the development of effective policies for sustainable development and education and have undertaken innovative research on the transformative potential of learning in Scotland’s unique context.

The reception was hosted at the prestigious Playfair Library at the University of Edinburgh, where guests were welcomed by the Centre’s Director, Peter Higgins, Professor of Outdoor, Environmental and Sustainability Education, at the University of Edinburgh, and Prof Sir Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

A keynote address was given by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Ms Jenny Gilruth MSP, which was followed by contributions from Mr Bernard Combes, Programme Specialist for ESD for 2030, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Dr Jonghwi Park, Academic Programme Officer, United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies; Dr Rehema White, Chair, Learning for Sustainability Scotland and School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews; and young people from Boroughmuir High School, City of Edinburgh.

During her address, Ms Gilruth commented that “Enshrining Learning for Sustainability across the curriculum supports our children and young people to develop the skills, knowledge and values needed for a more sustainable and socially-just society. Learning for Sustainability Scotland has been a key champion for this over the past 10 years and I congratulate them on reaching this milestone.”

Professor Sir Peter Mathieson commented, ‘The University of Edinburgh has a strong and longstanding commitment to sustainability through its degree programmes, its research, outreach activities, and its governance and estate policies; and my predecessor, Professor Sir Tim O’Shea, was here in the Playfair Library to launch the Centre just over 10 years ago. I am delighted to be celebrating the remarkable contributions the Centre has made to formal and informal learning for sustainability both in Scotland and internationally in its first 10 years – and I look forward to the next decade.’

Professor Peter Higgins, said that “The need to support learners in all sectors to acquire the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to create a sustainable future has never been more important. There remain many challenges ahead, including the deepening nature and climate crises and widening social inequalities. Together with our members and partner organisations, we will continue to support our members to tackle these and other issues through education and learning.”

Dr Rehema White further commented that “We are proud of our breadth of engagement across different sectors (school, higher and further education, community, NGOs, government) and at such a range of scales (individual, institution, community, organisation, local authority, national, and international). Our successes have been due to a dedicated group of core staff, great partnerships, supportive Steering Group members, membership and organisations, and a cultural commitment to education that is rooted deep in the history and context of Scotland.”

Read the welcome from Professor Sir Peter Mathieson in full here.

Read the welcome from Professor Peter Higgins in full here.

Read the address from the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills in full here.

Watch the video contribution from Mr Bernard Combes here.

Watch the video from Dr Jonghwi Park here.

Read the closing reflections from Dr Rehema White in full here.

Watch the video contribution from Boroughmuir High School’s students here.

Watch this space for more on our tenth anniversary celebrations!